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Analysing Conceptual Metaphors of Emotion in Mindfulness Literature


Academic year: 2022

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Analysing Conceptual Metaphors of Emotion in

Mindfulness Literature

Marina Esteban Martín SUPERVISOR: Antonio Silvestre López June, 2020


Table of contents

List of tables 3

List of abbreviations 3

Abstract 4

1. Introduction 6

2.Theoretical Background 9

2.1 Conceptual Metaphor Theory 9

​2.1.1 Metaphor Identification Procedure 11

2.2 Mindfulness Practice 1​3

2.3 Purpose 16

3. Method 1​7

​ 3.1 Corpus 17

3.2 Procedure 18

4. Results 2​0

4.1 General Findings 2​1

4.2 TD-SD Distribution Analysis 2​3

5. Discussion 3​2

6. Conclusion 3​8

References 4​0


List of tables

Table 1: Frequency of main source domain associations with

EMOTIONS (TD) in the corpus.

Table 2: Count of main target and source domain (WEATHER) associations in the corpus with examples.

Table 3: Count of main target and source domain (NATURE) associations in the corpus with examples.

Table 4: ​Count ​of ​main target and source domain ​(​ OCEAN)​associations in the corpus with​ ​examples​.

List of abbreviations

CM Conceptual Metaphor

CMT Conceptual Metaphor Theory MIP Metaphor Identification Procedure

SD Source Domain

TD Target Domain



Metaphors are widely used in daily discourse in order to clarify meaning or illustrate concepts (Lakoff, 1993). Besides, different aspects on the use of metaphorical expressions have been extensively investigated (Lakoff, 1993; Gibbs, 1999; Kövecses, 2010), but studies on their use in the field of mindfulness are limited. Among the scarce research on conceptual metaphors in the field of meditative practices (Silvestre-López & ​Navarro-i-Ferrando​, 2017; Silvestre-López, 2020), previous studies have not focussed exclusively on metaphors of emotion. In addition, metaphors have been shown to be necessary for understanding the experiences of mindfulness practice (Silvestre-López, 2019). Thus, the main purpose of this study is to discover which categories of conceptual metaphors were more effective and abundant in their association with emotions in a well-known mindfulness manual,​Sitting Still like a Frog ​(Snel, 2013).

The method for the analysis involves the identification of the topic to analyse, the extraction of metaphorical expressions with the MIP (Pragglejaz, 2007), and the analysis for conceptual metaphor categorisation (Cf. Silvestre-López, 2019, 2020). Results reveal the high quantity of conceptual metaphors of emotion in the context of


mindfulness. The study also shows the different amount and efficiency of each conceptual metaphor occurring in the book.

Keywords: Conceptual Metaphor, Metaphor Analysis, Mindfulness, Emotions.


1. Introduction

Metaphor analysis has been the focus of several researchers, such as Lakoff (1993), Gibbs (1999), Kövecses (2010),Cameron and Maslen (2010) or Goatly (2011), since metaphors are figures of speech that are outstanding in discourse. Metaphors have been recognised as an important way of using language to illustrate abstract ideas or to convey feelings (Cameron and Maslen, 2010). For that reason, their use has always been associated with texts which require a polished or finely detailed style of writing, such as poetry. However, metaphors are not exclusive of poetical texts, they have been shown to be part of our daily life (Lakoff, 1993). Far from mere figures of speech, metaphors are shown to be grounded on mind perceptions and connections of regular ordinary objects, ideas, events or even natural phenomena (Lakoff, 1993). Besides, even though metaphors can be verbalised unintentionally in daily speech, imagination and the ability of associating things and words are fundamental to be aware of the real meaning of a metaphorical concept. For instance, when reading a book in which “rainy days” refer to the emotion of sadness (Snel, 2013). Thus, metaphors can be useful to provide a correlation between a simple weather pattern and an abstract concept.


Generally, metaphor analysis is commonly based on Lakoff’s Conceptual Metaphor Theory (1993), who claimed that metaphors are based on our daily lives. Moreover, the term conceptual metaphor (CM) ​refers to appreciating one idea in terms of another based on our knowledge of experiences of the world ​(Lakoff, 1993).

This study examines CMs in the context of mindfulness due to their scarce previous research in this field. Among the few articles on this topic, Silvestre-López (2019, 2020) investigated CMs differentiating their deliberate use and showing their communicative function in meditation discourse. Besides, Silvestre-López and Navarro-i-Ferrando (2017) also studied the use of metaphors in the field of meditation and focused on several types of domains, including emotions and thoughts. In this paper, the linguistic and metaphorical dimension of meditative practice is approached by focusing on a book of mindfulness for kids: ​Sitting Still like a Frog (Snel, 2013).

Therefore, this study will contribute to the bulk of research on CMs in this meditative field.

In mindfulness discourse, regular language use is claimed to not be accurate enough to explain some of the concepts of the practice due to its foundation on experiential feelings. Besides, experience is the main objective of mindfulness (Kabat-Zinn, 1990), and some human experiences are ineffable (Silvestre-Lopez, 2016). In fact,


sometimes words cannot describe accurately enough some feelings or actions, and metaphor use plays a big role in order to put them into words. For example, the emotion of anger is regarded as storms, comparing an experiential concept with an extreme weather condition (Snel, 2013). Therefore, metaphors are created in order to achieve that explanatory purpose in this specific meditative context (Kövecses, 2003). All in all, CMs in this book occur in correlation between experiential phenomena already existing and concepts that are inefable or difficult to describe.

Besides, metaphors have been shown to be essential for understanding the experiences of the mindfulness practice (Silvestre-López, 2019), which include the awareness, acceptance and control of emotions (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). Accordingly, the focus of this study is the analysis of CMs of emotion in mindfulness, on account of the scarce previous research on this matter and the importance of emotions in the selected mindfulness corpus.

Given these foundations, a question may arise, which categories of CMs are more abundant and effective in their association with emotions in the corpus?


2.Theoretical Background

2.1 Conceptual Metaphor Theory

According to the online Cambridge Dictionary (2020), a metaphor is

“an expression, often found in literature, that describes a person or object by referring to something that is considered to have similar characteristics to that person or object”.

Metaphors are considered to be figures of speech often found in literary texts (Gibbs, 1999). They are frequently used in poetry due to the language style employed in this genre in which the focus is on form (Lakoff, 1986). However, regardless of their frequency in the aforementioned types of texts, metaphorical expressions are shown to be regularly employed in daily speech to explain complex concepts which can be associated with more simple and ordinary elements (Lakoff, 1993). Thus, metaphors occur beyond the literal or figurative meaning (Goatly, 2010), considering that they are demonstrated to be indispensable for our lives since they concern thought and human actions rather than merely language use (Lakoff, 1993). For that reason, the consideration of a metaphor as an exclusive figure of speech for literary purposes, has been shown to be false (Lakoff, 1993). This view, contrary to the classical theory, is referred to as the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), based on cognitive linguistics.


The CMT was proposed by Lakoff and Johnson (2008), who first claimed that metaphors are conceptual, experiential and constantly occur in our language. Thus, metaphors are no longer simply literary speech, but conceptual perceptions of our human minds connected with speech and real world phenomena, that is, our conceptualisation of daily observable things (Forceville, 2006).

Hence, CMs are pervasive in everyday communication and are the basis to construct reason and thought operations based on our life experiences (Lakoff & Johnson, 2008). Consequently, CMs are considered to be essential for general language use and mental associations, and for that reason all the different languages must be regarded as metaphorical (Goatly, 1997). In fact, Goatly (2011) analysed linguistic corpora, as literary works, in order to discover how metaphors are used to communicate meaning.

Besides, according to Lakoff (1993), a metaphor is described as the comprehension of an element in terms of another ​based on our knowledge of world experiences ​. In order to understand how a CM functions and how the analysis is carried out, two elements must be clarified. The CM consists of two components or roles, a Source Domain (SD) which is usually the more simple and concrete domain, and the concept to which it makes reference, the Target Domain (TD) generally referred to the more complex concept. Those two essential elements of the CM form a mapping, which corresponds to the


associations in the brain of concepts and world phenomena (Lakoff &

Johnson, 2008). ​Besides, the domains of mappings are composed by the information stored in the brain, which manages metaphorical expressions in the language (Kövecses, 2010). ​Therefore, the more correlations with usual daily elements can be found in discourse, the easier it is to understand the complex ideas to which metaphorical expressions refer to. In this study, the CMs analysed occur in the form of physical or visual phenomena to denote emotions. For instance, in the CM ​EMOTIONSAREWAVES, the abstract and experiential concept of

EMOTIONS (TD) emerges in a visual world phenomena, which is a more specific domain. Several metaphorical expressions adopt the formula of this CM. For instance, ​You cannot stop the waves ​(Snel, 2013:10)​, Focus your attention and see the waves ​(Snel, 2013:10)​, Preoccupied with how the waves should have been ​(Snel, 2013:11).

2.1.1 Metaphor Identification Procedure

The Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP) is a current standard process for data collection for metaphor analysis which was created by a group of scholars for every study to be grounded on the same type of analysis so as to obtain uniform outcomes (Pragglejaz, 2007). It is a flexible research tool which emerged due to the lack of criteria for metaphor identification that resulted in different types of outcomes


and discrepancies between studies. Therefore, it has been shown to be an effective tool for accomplishing uniform analysis, and for that reason MIP is the procedure employed for the metaphor extraction in the selected corpus.

Pragglejaz (2007: 3) claimed that this research tool consists of several steps, which were those applied to the analysis of CMs in this study. The first step consists of reading “the entire text–discourse to establish a general understanding of the meaning”. The second step is determining the words that appear “in the text–discourse”. Then, “for each lexical unit in the text, establish its meaning in context” and

“determine if it has a more basic contemporary meaning in other contexts than the one in the given context” (Pragglejaz, 2007: 3).

Besides, if the unit analysed “has a more basic contemporary meaning in other contexts”, decide if in the selected context differs from the basic meaning but “can be understood in comparison with it”. Finally, if it can be understood, then the word can be assigned as a metaphorical lexical unit (Pragglejaz, 2007: 3). Therefore, the intention by the use of MIP is to analyse every lexical unit present in the book, in favor of selecting the metaphorical expressions for their following analysis.


2.2 Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness is fundamentally a meditation practice adopted from eastern spiritual traditions which has been demonstrated to have both physical and mental health benefits for adults and children (Paulus, 2016; Bishop et al., 2004; Cebolla et al., 2014). Besides, the benefits of this practice have also been shown by Kabat-Zinn (2003), the founder of MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), who contributed to the expansion of mindfulness in the modern Western context.

This meditative practice was introduced in the Western societies by Kabat-Zinn (1990) due to the benefits it has, especially on mental health (Cebolla et al., 2014). Cebolla et al. stated that mindfulness is the explicit and intentional open observation of body and mind, allowing present good or bad experiences and feelings to flow, and accept them without judgment. Besides, some of the benefits of this experiential practice according to Kabat-Zinn (1990), include learning to relax, improve concentration, reduce stress and anxiety, and accept problems and feelings. Nevertheless, the discipline of mindfulness requires a lot of practice and effort to master (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

Mindfulness is a practice which involves the experience of the conscious attention of the present moment, focusing on feelings with


the mind open to perception and getting away from external issues (Snel, 2013). However, experiencing mindfulness is not the same as its theoretical explanation since it is a practical experiential discipline.

Therefore, an exact definition would involve carrying out a practical approach (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

Experiencing the mindfulness practice involves the subjective perception of the world phenomena, and explaining the elements we can feel and see is apparently a complex task to do (Silvestre-Lopez, 2016). In fact, several scholars have attempted to relate mindfulness with language. Collins et al. (2009) examined relationships among language use and measures of mindfulness. In addition, Hurlburt (2011: 2) analysed in discourse the nature of inner experience, claiming that “Inner experience includes things like seeings, hearings, smellings of the outside world”. Moreover, inner experience is also referred to “thoughts, feelings, sensations or anything that appears before the footlights of consciousness” (Hurlburt, 2011: 6).

Mindfulness is considered to be an “entirely empirical matter”

(Hayes & Shenk, 2004: 250). Using language to define experiences is an obstacle because it limits the focus on the present moment and

“taking the mind literally is precisely what meditation is not” (Hayes

& Shenk, 2004: 252). Thus, despite the experiential nature of mindfulness, writers of this type of discourse must manage to describe


and communicate successfully each of the inner experiences and processes involved in the physical and mental experience of mindfulness (Silvestre-Lopez, 2016). Nevertheless, every event described in words is related to something else, and that is why they have a meaning (Hayes & Shenk, 2004). In order to facilitate the description and understanding of mindfulness, writers of this field opt to use CMs, using ordinary phenomena of daily life in correlation with more complex concepts (Silvestre-Lopez, 2016).

Accordingly, CMs are shown to be essential in the context of mindfulness since they create mental representations that underlie the different mindfulness exercises (Silvestre-Lopez, 2016). Therefore, they are used in this book to provide a relation between mindfulness ideas and practices, such as emotions or thoughts, with things we are familiar with, such as the “waves of the ocean” (Snel, 2013). Hence, since metaphor use provides a representation of those feelings, their use is considered to be fundamental for the interpretation and comprehension of world phenomena (Silvestre-Lopez, 2016).

Besides, Kövecses (2003) stated that emotions share a great amount of metaphorical expressions and studied thoroughly the relationship of metaphors and emotion. For instance, in the CM ​ANGER

ISANATURALFORCE, such as a storm (Kövecses, 2003). Emotions were also expressed frequently in a metaphorical way in the research of


Silvestre-López & Navarro-i-Ferrando on metaphors in the conceptualisation of meditative practices (2017). This study also presented CMs in a meditative discourse such as ​EMOTIONSAREWAVES, or ​EMOTIONSARELIVEBEINGS.

2.3 Purpose

Metaphors have been shown to be essential for understanding the experiences of the mindfulness practice (Silvestre-López, 2019).

Besides, emotions are certainly a relevant aspect in this meditative practice (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). However, previous research involving CMs in the field of mindfulness have a broader and general aim (Silvestre-López & ​Navarro-i-Ferrando​, 2017). Thus, the focus of this paper was to provide an overview of the use of CMs of emotion in the context of mindfulness. The main aim was to discover which categories of CMs were more effective and abundant in their association with emotions inside the mindfulness corpus selected. In this paper, the linguistic and metaphorical dimension of meditative practice is approached by the analysis of CMs of emotion in a mindfulness book, ​Sitting Still Like a Frog ​(Snel, 2013). In order to discover the abundance and effectiveness of each CM, the analysis of the corpus involved three steps. Besides, the results of the analysis are expected to show that some categories appear to a greater extent in the


book, and that some categories are more effective in their correlation of emotions with visual and experiential phenomena.

3. Method

In order to accomplish the objective of the research, the approach for the analysis of the corpus involved three main steps. The steps included the identification of the topic to analyse, the extraction of metaphorical expressions with the MIP (Pragglejaz, 2007), and the analysis for CM categorisation.

3.1 Corpus

A mindfulness book for kids by Eline Snel was selected as the corpus for the metaphor analysis in the English version, ​Sitting Still like a Frog (2013). This version was translated from the original Dutch edition ​Stilzitten als een Kikker (2010). The book describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices are beneficial for children and their parents. The benefits of this practice mentioned in the book include learning to calm down, get focused on daily tasks, fall asleep easily, relieve stress, calm anxiety and worry, be patient, manage anger and be aware of emotions (Snel, 2013).


In addition, the purpose of the book is to help parents to develop the practice of mindfulness considering all the benefits it may provide to children. The meditation exercises included in this book are a simple and effective tool adapted to the needs of children..

Moreover, this book offers short stories and exercises that children can practice on a daily basis. Regarding the internal structure, the book is divided into ten different chapters, and each chapter has a different topic and involves different mindfulness exercises.

3.2 Procedure

The analysis of the book ​Sitting Still Like a Frog ​(Snel, 2013) was carried out following three different stages. The first stage involved reading the selected corpus in order to identify the main topic to analyse and getting a perspective of the metaphors used. During the reading process, the most abundant and outstanding topic identified was emotions, so it was selected as the main topic for the analysis.

The second step involved the analysis with MIP (Pragglejaz, 2007) so as to discover the metaphorical expressions included in the corpus. A​n approximate amount of 19400 linguistic units appearing in the book were read and examined in isolation following the MIP.

Considering the relevance of emotions, among the metaphors selected,


only ​the expressions whose TD is related to emotions were analysed.

Hence, a total amount of 142 CMs of emotion were extracted from the corpus (cf. Section 4.1).

Subsequently, the CMs of emotion were analysed in order to divide them in categories following the TD-SD mappings. During this step, the CMs corresponding to ​EMOTIONSARESD were classified, merging some of the most specific categories. At this point, the different emotions were included in the major category of ​EMOTIONS (TD), and the different SDs of the book were classified into eleven categories. Besides, the frequency of metaphorical expressions in each category was calculated over the total of 142 CMs occurring in the book in order to discover their abundance in the corpus. Moreover, the correlated CMs inside each category were taken into account for the purpose of determining the effectiveness of each category in their association with emotions inside the context of mindfulness. After this process, the CMs of the eleven major categories were put into different tables with their examples and their amount in the whole book. Nevertheless, only three major categories are presented in the current study as examples of how the analysis was carried out.


4. Results

The results of the data collection and analysis are presented in this section offering a visual insight of the general findings on CM use and three examples of the TD-SD distribution of CMs of emotion occurring in the book.

This section provides a global count of the total employment of the eleven major categories of source domains in Table 1 providing the total percentage of each of the categories over the total of 142 CMs of emotion appearing in the corpus. The categories of CMs include: ​WEATHER, ​NATURE, ​OCEAN, ​ELECTRONICDEVICES, ​ASSORTED,


The findings are illustrated in three tables which show the three most frequent major categories related to ​EMOTIONS (TD).

Besides, each of the rows inside each category contain different types of CMs attributed to the specific category named on the first row

EMOTIONSARE SD​S. In addition, TDs appear in the first column of the tables, whereas the SDs are presented in each second column. The third column illustrates with an example from the corpus each of the metaphorical expressions. Moreover, tables throughout this section also reveal the quantification of use of each CM association throughout the book in the last column.


4.1 General Findings

Table 1: Frequency of main source domain associations with

EMOTIONS (TD) in the corpus.


Source Domain Frequency Percentage

SD_​WEATHER 34 [23%]

SD_​NATURE 22 [15.5%]

SD_​OCEAN 16 [11.3%]


SD_​ASSORTED 14 [9.9%]

SD_​MEDICINE 13 [9.2%]

SD_​FILMS 12 [8.5%]

SD_​OBJECTS 7 [4.9%]

SD_​MUSIC 5 [3.5%]

SD_​FOOD 2 [1.4%]

SD_​FIRE 2 [1.4%]

TOTAL: 11 142 142(100%)

Table 1 ​presents the count of the frequency of each of the eleven major SD categories occurring in the corpus. The percentage was calculated over the total amount of 142 metaphorical expressions.


The different associations are explained below in order of the extent of their contributions in the corpus analysed.

Metaphorical expressions of ​WEATHER (SD) occur 34 times, constituting the most considerable amount of associations in the book with a percentage of 23.9%. Moreover, the second predominant category is ​NATURE(SD) with 22 expressions and a total percentage of 15.5%. In addition, ​OCEAN (SD) contributed with 16 expressions constituting a 11.3% of CMs in total. Furthermore, ​ELECTRONICDEVICES (SD) included 15 examples throughout the book and constitute a 10.6% of the total amount of CMs. The following category is

ASSORTEDMETAPHORS, including metaphorical expressions which could not be categorised with 14 different associations in the book and a percentage of 9.9%. Regarding ​MEDICINE (SD), it contributed with 13 associations, constituting a 9.2% in total. F ​ILMS(SD) contributed with 12 expressions, that is, 8.5% of CMs.

Moreover, some categories contributed on a small scale to the bulk of CMs. One of those major categories is ​OBJECTS (SD) with 7 associations and a percentage of 4.9%. Besides, ​MUSIC (SD) constituted a 3.5% of metaphors with the 5 different associations included in the book. Finally, ​FOOD and ​FIRE SDs contributed with a 1.4% of CMs and provided 2 different metaphorical expressions.


4.2 TD-SD Distribution Analysis

Table 2: Count of main target and source domain (WEATHER) associations in the corpus with examples.

Target Domain


Source Domain


Examples: 34

Feelings, emotions

Weather Notice the weather inside


Anger, Anxiety

Storm, thunderstorm,


The first signs of an approaching storm


Sadness Rainy

I am not the downpour, but I notice that it is

raining 4

Kindness Gentle rain Is like gentle rain that falls everywhere


Calm Sunny Do you feel relaxed and sunny inside?


Love Sunlight Granting each other plenty of sunlight


Place of emotions


Sky The clear sky 2 Mood Clouds Attention to the clouds 5 Loneliness Cold Feel the cold on your



Fear Wind The wind that nearly

blows you off your feet 1

E​MOTIONSAREWEATHER is the CM portrayed in Table 2, which shows the amount of emotions and their correlation with different types of weather in terms of visual similarities and conceptual analogies. For example, rain might be visually comparable to tears, so


The weather analogy appears in several units of the book while other SDs appear only once. In chapter 6 “Weathering the Storm Inside” (Snel, 2013:51), the vast amount of CMs are related to weather, including several types of SD making reference to different types of emotions.

Table 2 shows ten different SDs related to weather patterns or meteorological disasters. Meteorological disasters include​RAIN,​STORM,

THUNDERSTORM,​LIGHTNING,​COLD and ​WIND, which are usually related to


negative emotions such as ​SADNESS, ​ANGER, ​ANXIETY, and general bad feelings. Positive or neutral weather patterns include ​GENTLERAIN,

SUNNY, ​SUNLIGHT, ​SKY, ​WEATHER and ​CLOUDS, associated with good or neutral things associated with ​EMOTIONS (TD) such as ​LOVE, ​CALM,


In addition, Table 2 shows that the most common is the general association of “ ​EMOTIONSAREWEATHER” occurring eight times throughout the book. For example, in the sentence ​Notice the weather inside ​(Snel, 2013:51).

Regarding ​STORM, ​THUNDERSTORM, ​LIGHTNING (SD) and their association with ​ANGER and ​ANXIETY (TD), it appears six times in the book, as in ​The first signs of an approaching storm ​(Snel, 2013:52).

Such extreme emotions can easily be associated with extreme weather phenomena.

Another frequent SD is ​RAINYwhose TD is ​SADNESS, as in ​I am not the downpour, but I notice that it is raining ​(Snel, 2013:55). Also frequent is the related comparison of tears with raindrops, as it was previously mentioned, so this association is simply physical and related to the usual mood when it rains.

K​INDNESS (TD) is also related to emotions and appears three times in this book with relation to ​GENTLERAIN(SD), as in ​Is like gentle


rain that falls everywhere ​(Snel, 2013:77). This relation can be explained by the fact that being kind is something that can be spread to create good emotions.

One of the positive emotions, ​CALM or ​RELAXATION is related to

SUNNY weather (SD), as in ​Do you feel relaxed and sunny inside?​, and it appears three times throughout the book (Snel, 2013:54). When the weather is warm and sunny, people usually consider it as being positive, for example, for exterior activities.

With regard to the association of ​LOVE (TD) with ​SUNLIGHT (SD) it appears just once, ​Granting each other plenty of sunlight (Snel, 2013:15). The light and warmth of the sun seem to be positive aspects which can be linked to love.

Regarding the SD ​SKY, it is associated with the ​PLACEOF

EMOTIONS (TD)​, that is, the head. This correlation appears twice in the book, as in The clear sky ​(Snel, 2013:55). It is positive because a clear sky would mean not having bad emotions in the head.

C​LOUDS (SD) appear five times in the book to refer to ​MOOD (TD). For instance, in ​Attention to the clouds ​(Snel, 2013:55), moods are something people can pay attention to in the same way they can watch the clouds passing by.


C​OLD (SD) is related to ​LONELINESS (TD)​, in one metaphorical expression, ​Feel the cold on your cheeks ​(Snel, 2013:56). This negative emotion contrasts with the ​warm feeling of a hug or a companion as in the comparison of ​SUNLIGHT with ​LOVE.

Finally, the sentence ​The wind that nearly blows you off your feet ​(Snel, 2013:56) is an example of the SD ​ WIND, which only appears once in the book and corresponds to ​A feeling that moves you which can be applied to ​FEAR (TD)​. This CM refers to a strong feeling that can emotionally move you.

Table 3: Count of main target and source domain (NATURE) associations in the corpus with examples.

Target Domain


Source Domain


Examples: 22

Self-confidence Nest A safe nest to which children can return


Patience, calm Sapling Bend with the wind…

like a young sapling


Attention, calmness

Frog The frog sits still and breathes



Hope Dove

Watch the dove fly off…

on its way to fulfill your heart’s desire 2

E​MOTIONSARENATURE is the group of CMs including ​NEST,

SAPLING, ​FROG and ​DOVEinside the category of nature in Table 3. This table shows four different CMs which include the aforementioned SDs correlated to the TDs of ​SELF-​CONFIDENCE, ​PATIENCE, ​ATTENTION and


A ​NESTISSELF-​CONFIDENCE (TD), ​A safe nest to which children can return ​when they feel bad, because they have that grounded feeling inside (Snel, 2013:15). This association appears only once.

Regarding ​SAPLINGISPATIENCE or ​CALM, it also appears just once, ​Bend with the wind… like a young sapling ​(Snel, 2013:14). This metaphorical expression refers to the fact that patience and calm are necessary for mindfulness practice.

F​ROG (SD), as in the title of the book ​Sitting Still like a Frog​, appears eighteen times throughout the book referring to ​CALMNESSand

ATTENTION (TD) as in ​The frog sits still and breathes ​(Snel, 2013:24), which refers to the mindfulness practice as well.


Finally the ​DOVE(SD) appears two times in the book referring to ​HOPE (TD) as in ​Watch the dove fly off... on its way to fulfill your heart’s desire ​(Snel, 2013:93). It refers to the idea that we have to be hopeful in order to fulfill our desires and dreams.

Table 4: Count of main target and source domain ( OCEAN) associations in the corpus with examples.

Target Domain


Source Domain


Examples: 17 Emotions Sea, ocean You cannot control the



Calm Clear smooth water

Sometimes the surface of the water is smooth


Anxiety, stress Waves You cannot stop the waves


Feelings Tides The forces that whip up the waves


Dealing with bad feelings

Surfing You can learn to surf on the waves



Anger Maelstrom In and out of the maelstrom


E​MOTIONSAREOCEAN is the major categorization in Table 4.

This table presents six different SDs grouped in the major category of ocean with their correlated emotions.

This association is predominant since the metaphorical expressions related to the SD ​OCEAN (Table 4) appear several times throughout the book.

The table shows six different analogies of ​OCEAN (SD) with

EMOTIONS (TD)​. The different SDs included in Table 4 of the major category are ​OCEAN, ​CLEARSMOOTHWATER, ​WAVES, ​TIDES, ​SURFING and

MAELSTROM. On the other hand, the TDs of emotion associated are


The first association in Table 4 is ​OCEAN (SD) with ​EMOTIONS (TD) as in the expression ​You cannot control the sea​(Snel, 2013:10), occurring four times throughout the book. This CM may refer to the fact that no one can control the emotions without practice.

C​ALM (TD) is another emotion depicted in the book, as in Sometimes the surface of the water is smooth ​(Snel, 2013:12). Thus,


the​CLEARSMOOTHWATER(SD) refers to the feeling of ​CALM(TD), a CM appearing twice in the book. It is a visual CM of a sea without waves, that is calm, and feeling calm.

Another CM is ​WAVES(SD) referring to ​ANXIETY or​STRESS(TD) as presented in ​You cannot stop the waves ​(Snel, 2013:10), and it appears three times. When the sea has a lot of waves and they are high, they may be dangerous, as when we have bad feelings, but those feelings are part of our existence. Moreover, accepting the feelings, according to the mindfulness practice, is the best option in order to realise that it is not wrong to have them.

A general source domain referring to ​FEELINGSISTIDES as in the expression ​The forces that whip up the waves appearing thrice in the book ​(Snel, 2013:11). This CM is related to ​ WAVES (SD)​, feelings create or increase other feelings and emotions, and the same happens with tides which create and increase the waves.

In addition, another CM related to emotions is the verb ​SURFING (SD) which illustrates ​DEALINGWITHBADFEELINGS (TD) four times in the book as in ​You can learn to surf on the waves ​(Snel, 2013:10).

This metaphorical expression is referred to the mindfulness practice, learning to manage the feelings.


Finally, as in Table 2, ​ANGER(TD) in this table is referred to as a meteorological hazard that in this case is a ​MAELSTROM (SD) only occurring once, ​In and out of the maelstrom ​(Snel, 2013:63). As with storms, extreme conditions are difficult to handle, and anger is also difficult to control.


5. Discussion

The main aim of this project was to discover which categories of CMs are more effective and abundant in their association with emotions inside the context of mindfulness in a specific corpus. The corpus analysis was intended to be carried out following the proposed methodology and involved the aforementioned three steps.

The analysis of ​Sitting Still Like a Frog (Snel, 2013) provided 142 similar or different CMs of emotion, which were divided into eleven major categories. Besides, the SDs contributed to a different extent, ranging from 1.4% to 23%.

The results of the analysis show that the expectations of this study have been accomplished. According to the contribution of each major category,​WEATHERprovides a greater amount of expressions and therefore, it can be considered to be the most relevant category in the attempt to describe emotions and human experiences. The percentage of 23% CMs of emotion inside this category, presented in Table 1, indicates that a great amount of all the CMs of emotion in the book are related to weather. In fact, the widest range of different CMs occurs in that category, as indicated in Table 2. The variety of weather patterns are a great source for providing different types of conceptualisations.

For instance, storms and thunderstorms are strong and noisy so this


extreme weather can be easily depicted in our brains as someone angry and shouting. Thus, this type of CMs are not only related to emotions in a metaphorical way, but also in a physical way. Therefore, association of weather with emotions has been proven to be abundant and effective.

N​ATURE is the following category with most examples throughout the book, 22 in total. It contributes with 15.5% of associations, but the main significant SD is ​FROGwith 17 expressions, which seems to be attributed to the title of the book ​Sitting Still Like a Frog ​(Snel, 2013). Moreover, ​FROG is frequent as a matter of explaining the feeling of practicing mindfulness, which is essentially calmness and attention to the feelings, just like a frog sitting still observing every movement. Therefore, the main CM in this category serves as a correlation with the main purpose of the book, teaching how to experience mindfulness. Nevertheless, the other metaphorical expressions of the major category ​NATURE are not remarkably relevant for this book, since, despite providing effective single associations, they only appear once or twice in the whole book. Therefore, this category is abundant, but it is certainly not as effective as other categories, since metaphorical expressions appear individually rather than as a group of associations.


O​CEAN is another category substantially contributing to the extent of metaphors occurring in the book, with 16 examples and a 11.3% of appearance overall. In fact, this category is the second with the most different expressions, providing a collection of different conceptualisations inside the category of ocean. For instance, in the CM ​EMOTIONSAREOCEAN, emotions can be relaxed as the water or they can be stressed as the waves, and despite the fact that waves cannot be controlled, we can learn to surf on them, that is, accept the emotions and try to deal with them. All of the mappings that ​OCEAN provides, create a successful group of cooperating CMs that construe a mind map. Therefore, this major category has been proven to be abundant and effective in its correlation with emotions.

E​MOTIONSAREELECTRONICDEVICES is also an extensive category, appearing 15 times in the book and constituting a 10.6% of associations overall. A great amount of all the CMs of emotion in the book are related to electronic devices, even though it constitutes a small percentage in comparison to ​WEATHER. In terms of effectiveness this category can be considered to be one of the most efficient categories in the corpus. Besides, the CM ​EMOTIONSAREMEDICINE appears 13 times in the book constituting a 9.2% of metaphorical expressions overall. This major category shows that associations are effective even though they are not very common throughout the book.

F​ILMS also provides a few expressions, 12 in total. The percentage of


8.5% CMs of emotion inside this category, indicates that it is not one of the major contributors to the book, but provides an effective set of associations. In addition, some of the major categories that occurred less in the book were ​ASSORTEDMETAPHORS, ​MEDICINE, ​FILMS, ​OBJECTS,

MUSIC, ​FOOD and ​FIRE. These associations seem to represent less the metaphorical expressions since they only appear from 1 to 14 times in the book. Despite their scarcity, the source domains of ​MEDICINE,​FILMS,

MUSIC, ​FIRE and ​FOOD provide several correlated elements inside their categories, proving their effectiveness to illustrate emotions.

Nevertheless, due to their scarce contribution, their effectiveness in terms of the amount of total correlations is also limited.

Besides, the domains of mappings are composed by the experiential information stored in the brain that manages metaphorical expressions in the language (Kövecses, 2010). ​Therefore, the correlations with perceptible elements in discourse help to understand the complex ideas to which metaphorical expressions refer to. Thus, the abundant CM correlations provide effectiveness for understanding the discourse. ​Accordingly, the 142 CMs of emotion occurring in the book have contributed to some extent to the understanding and conceptualisation of emotions in terms of their association with world phenomena. However, among the eleven categories in which those


metaphors were divided, their contribution varied since some were more effective or occurred more than others.

With regard to the amount of examples of each category, the most prevalent aforementioned category is ​WEATHER(23%). Moreover, the most effective major category in terms of interconnections is

WEATHER, followed by ​OCEAN. However, major categories such as

OBJECTS, ​NATURE ​and ​ASSORTED metaphors included no interconnected CMs, they were distributed throughout the book without any type of correlation. ​Hence, the major contributor to the book in terms of quantity and effectiveness was the major category of ​WEATHER.

Likewise, two more in-depth studies on CMs of emotion presented a few similar findings to the metaphorical expressions collected and analysed in this paper as can be seen in the results section.

Among the bulk of metaphors of emotion in the study of Kövecses (2003), one of the associations discovered was ​ANGERISA

NATURALFORCE (storm), also appearing in this research (Table 2). In fact, it is included in the major category which has been considered to be the most effective, that is ​WEATHER. Moreover, results can also be compared with the research of Silvestre-López and Navarro-i-Ferrando (2017). This study also presented some of the


aforementioned metaphors in meditation discourse such as ​EMOTIONS

AREWAVES (Table 4) or ​LIVEBEINGS, here regarded as nature in Table 3.

Additionally, even though the aforementioned articles analysed wider corpora and achieved more general results, this investigation had a more narrowed purpose since it was exclusively focused on CMs of emotion in a specific mindfulness book.

In addition, the results provided by this investigation presented in the tables illustrate the relevance of emotions in the context of mindfulness. The high amount of 142 CMs of emotion found in the book demonstrate that metaphors are important in order to explain some of the experiences and emotions involved in the mindfulness practice, as expected by previous research. Hence, metaphors have been shown to be useful to clarify meaning or illustrate concepts (Lakoff, 1993), and to have a communicative function in the context of mindfulness (Silvestre-López, 2019), since all of the CMs analysed helped to explain the experiential perception of human emotions in mindfulness.


6. Conclusion

The general expectations for this study were accomplished. On the one hand it was expected to have found a great amount of CMs related to emotions, considering that studies on meditative practice discourse have been shown to include a great amount of CMs (Silvestre-López, 2016). Besides, it was also expected to have demonstrated that some of the categories contributed more to the comprehension of the book or were more abundant than others, which were more scarce or more ineffective. This aim was achieved by the collection, analysis and classification of each of the CMs in the book.

The 142 CMs of emotion collected from the book ​Sitting Still Like a Frog (Snel, 2013) were classified into eleven major categories:


DEVICES, ​FIRE, ​FILMS and ​MEDICINE. All of them have been shown to be effective to some extent in their contribution to the comprehension of emotions in the mindfulness field. Nevertheless, ​WEATHERresulted to be the most abundant and effective category due to all the correlations of metaphorical expressions inside the category, as well as contributing with the highest percentage of metaphors.

All in all, CMs in this context have been shown to provide mind associations, from basic visual elements or daily phenomena, such as


RAIN to complex feelings of human experience such as ​SADNESS (Lakoff, 1993). Thus, mappings are effective to the description of the mindfulness practice in the way it helps to deal with emotions, accept them, be aware of them or control them (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

Despite the specific purpose of the project was generally accomplished, the length has been a limitation for the full and correct development of an in-depth analysis of an entire book. Nevertheless this research may help scholars of this field to appreciate the amount of metaphors and their effectiveness in this specific book on mindfulness, as well as the different CMs related to emotion which were not found in previous studies. Finally, more extensive further research on CMs in several subjects within mindfulness discourse is needed due to the scarce research on this matter.

The theoretical foundations of the topic of this dissertation have been developed within the research project GV/2019/101. The findings in this piece of work, therefore, may be envisaged as a contribution within the research agenda in this project, and in general, as contributions to the field of metaphor analysis and mindfulness.



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